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Pirates notebook: Irwin back to Triple-A, but Polanco not expected to get call

| Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 5:21 p.m.
Pirates right fielder Travis Snider scores past Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum during the first inning Wednesday, May 7, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates right fielder Travis Snider scores past Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum during the first inning Wednesday, May 7, 2014, at PNC Park.

The Pirates will send reliever Phil Irwin back to Triple-A Indianapolis and likely call up a position player in time for Friday's series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals. However, the new arrival is not expected to be top prospect Gregory Polanco.

Irwin was called up Tuesday to provide an extra arm for the overworked bullpen. But the relief corps is again well rested after Charlie Morton and Gerrit Cole each worked eight innings in back-to-back starts.

With a full complement of seven relievers and the starting rotation set through Sunday, the Pirates could add a bat for the Cardinals series. The five players at Indy already are on the 40-man roster are Polanco, Andrew Lambo, Chris McGuiness, Jaff Decker and Brent Morel.

Lambo went on Indy's seven-day disabled list Wednesday with a bruised right thumb. He is batting .344 in 26 games with two home runs.

Polanco is batting .395 after going 2 for 4 in Indy's 3-1 loss Wednesday against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Polanco, an outfielder, turned down a multiyear contract offer during spring training. If he is called up before mid-June, Polanco almost certainly would qualify for Super 2 status and gain an extra year of salary arbitration. The clock also would start ticking toward his free agency eligibility.

Leadoff spot suits Snider

Clint Hurdle's “gut feeling” to put Travis Snider at the top of the order was spot on as the right fielder went 2 for 3 with a triple, two RBIs, one run scored and one walk in the Pirates' 4-3 win over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday.

“What more could you ask for?” Hurdle said. “He was on base three times, an extra-base hit, a two-run single, a walk. He's been our best pinch hitter, and I wanted to get him a game before the St. Louis series to get him some at-bats and keep him sharp. He showed up very well for us today.”

Snider had 22 career starts at the top of the order (.230) prior to Wednesday, many of them during a month and a half earlier in his career, he said.

“You try not to put too much emphasis on being a leadoff hitter and more about getting a good pitch to hit,” he said. “If he's not going to give you a good pitch to hit, let the guys behind you do the work.”

Wait and see with Wandy

Wandy Rodriguez, who went on the disabled list April 20 with right knee inflammation, was sharp the first three innings of his rehab start in Double-A Altoona on Tuesday, then gave up seven runs on seven hits, including two home runs, in the fourth inning. He was done after 5 13 innings.

“Physically, we'll see how he feels (Wednesday) and how he responds,” Hurdle said.

“Last time we had an issue it was the recovery day after that was problematic. Plus he extended his pitch count, threw all his pitches. As important as anything was getting up and down six times. We'll see where that can take us.”

No news on appeals

Russell Martin and Snider had their suspension appeals heard in front of a judge Tuesday, with members of MLB and the MLB Players Association on hand to state their cases, but neither player was told when to expect a decision.

As of Wednesday morning, they hadn't heard anything.

Grilli excited by progress

Closer Jason Grilli (left oblique strain) threw fastballs off the slope of the mound and plans to throw a bullpen session Friday. He said he feels good, and for now there's no cause for worry.

Uno mas

Ten of the Pirates' 14 wins this season have been decided by one run, which is one more than the Giants and the most in the majors.

Tuesday was also their major league-leading fifth walk-off victory this season.

Rob Biertempfel and Karen Price are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Reach them at and or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib and @KarenPrice_Trib.

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